Bad Feminist is a collection of essays by Roxane Gay. Her essays are a combination of personal accounts and crafty critiques on our culture. Gay’s arguments are smart and witty. Although I do not agree with every point Gay made in her book, I still value her opinions. I couldn’t put the book down, I was so interested in what Gay had to say.
Gay’s humor in the book is a plus. It also makes her stories relatable. I lost count at how many “GIRL, I FEEL YOU” moments I had reading this book. Gay is a great writer. She engages the reader in her personal accounts to the point that you feel that you are right there with her. In her critiques, she highlights the great strides women have made in our culture while also seeing the opportunities the feminist movement misses. Gay writes these essays not only as a woman, but as a woman of color. That alone is refreshing.
Bad Feminist also made me put a lot of thought into the word feminist. A word that is both powerful and soft. There is a need for the feminist movement in terms of equality, and reminding society how AMAZING women are, in a world that often puts women second. Yet the feminist movement often leaves out the injustices that occur with women of color. There is a lack of understanding and therefore a lack of effort for racial injusitce. Feminists should focus on race more. Inequality is inequality, don’t focus on one and dismiss the other injustices. A tech entrepreneur once told me, “Being a woman and being black is like a double unicorn. I have to push twice as hard for my breakthrough.” This is why I think Gay’s book is needed today. It’s a different kind of book–not only for women but for men also. It was more relatable to me than any episode of Girls on HBO could ever be.
[I want to start off this blogpost by saying that my mother’s side of the family is from the Dominican Republic and this article is in no way meant to slander that amazing country/culture of mine. I am no expert. This is sharing my personal experiences.]
Along my self-love journey wanting a healthier mind, body, and soul, I also wanted healthier hair. Growing up all I knew were Dominican hair salons, and I mean they should know how to take care of hair like mine right? Not necessarily.
I recently went to Hair Rules Salon in NYC, which specializes in ALL hair textures, to get a haircut. I also went to ask all my curly hair questions and learn more about how to best wash and take care of my curly hair. They cleared up a lot of misconceptions. I’m here to enlighten and demystify!
1. When they say…“Tu tiene pelo malo.” (You have bad hair.)
In reality, there is no such thing as having “bad” hair.
So why are Dominicans so obsessed with straight hair? Since the era (1930-1961) of the dictator Rafael Trujillo, a dictator that was obsessed with purifying the Dominican race by killing Haitians and darker-skinned Dominicans, beauty in the Dominican Republic for a long time was pale skin and straight hair.
Dominican people come in many shades, ethnic backgrounds, and to get to the point hair textures. Some salons treat all these textures the same. Rollers, blow dry, straight hair, done. BIG MISTAKE.
The first thing you should know is not all textures are the same BUT they should be given the same kind of love and treatment to be healthy.
No hay pelo malo!
2. Cutting curly hair while it’s wet.
Most of my life I’ve gotten my haircut with freshly washed, wet hair. Imagine my surprise when I learned that a dry cut is the way to go for curly hair. Hair Rules salon in NYC blow dries your hair straight (with a comb attachment) before cutting your hair to be able to see all your damaged ends. If you get a haircut with wet curly hair, some of your hair will start to dry and curl during the cut! Cutting your hair while it’s dry and straight avoids unevenness and further breakage.
3. Washing your hair once a week.
Wash it everyday if you want to! Well “co-wash” it everyday.
Let that fear of wetting your hair go! I wanted healthy hair and I wanted to be able to wash my hair everyday so I can work out everyday. Dominican mothers would yell don’t wash your hair everyday! But you can co-wash your hair everyday.
Curly hair gals, conditioner is your best friend. The two to three washes that salons give you with sulfate shampoo is horrible for curly hair texture types. Hair Rules gave me some tips to washing curly hair.
-Was once a week with a sulfate-free shampoo.
-Co-wash during the week as much as you want to refresh your scalp and curls.
-Clarify once a month for build up.
It’s all up to you and what you feel your hair requires. If you’re co-washing and clarifying, there is never a need for sulfate shampoo.
Co-Washing is short for “Conditioner Washing” or Cleansing with a Cleansing Cream. Most Conditioners have cleansing agents in the ingredients that clean hair just enough without over drying. Co-Washing is a step done in replacement of Shampoo. It can be done on occasions or by alternating your wash days using Shampoo one day and using a cream cleanser or Conditioner to cleanse the next time and so on. Every head of hair is different, so do what works best for your own hair. If you like to Co-Wash frequently make sure you are also keeping a healthy ph balance by clarifying as well.
Clarifying is deep cleaning your hair to remove product residue and build-up from products being used over time. Clarifying is meant to be done occasionally because it’s Deep Cleaning so it’s not meant for frequent use or your hair may suffer dryness. You can eve do this naturally with baking soda or Apple Cider Vinegar or Dr. Bronner’s 18 in one cleanser. Or simple use a shampoo that suds up, but still look for one that is sulfate free.
4. When they tell you DON’T leave your hair curly all the time!
They tell you it’s healthy to go to the salon weekly, and it’s only healthy for their pocket$$ really. You can’t walk into a Dominican hair salon and ask for them to style your hair curly because most Dominican salons will recommend your hair straight. Stop the curly kinky hate. Dominican hair stylists will do whatever it takes to get it straight: relaxer, texturized, more heat.
Heat damage is a bitch, trust me I know. I’m currently recovering from altered curl pattern and straight ends.
Most of the heat damage come from the typical roller set then blow dry combo. SURPRISE.
5. Under the dryer for 45 minutes, then blow dry, then maybe styling with a straightener or curling rod. YIKES!
That’s too much heat for your hair to take in one day.
Not all hair needs that. Not all hair should be treated the same. I do rollers mostly now but that’s it. If you have really really really kinky curly hair don’t do rollers because it causes breakage. Most Dominican salons, care more about the end result. You have to love your natural hair and know what is the best way to straighten it for your particular texture. Get to know your hair. I wanted answers and that led me to book an appointment with a salon that specializes in all kinds of hair.
I left Hair Rules salon with my natural curly hair styled.
I recommend to free yourself from these salons and learn to do your own hair or go to a curly hair salon. If you must go to a Dominican salon: RESEARCH and bring your own healthier products for them to use.
6. Styling Curly Hair
Avoid styling products with alcohol like cheap mousse and gels. That dries out your hair. There are a lot of gels and custards now that are alcohol-free with good hold that you can use. Styling curly hair for wash and go’s really depends on your hair. Learn what type of hair you have (1a-4c) AND what kind of porosity your hair has. This determines the best styling products for your hair. I have 3b hair styling milks and creams work best for me and light gels. Some heavy products weigh down my hair too much. Depends what kind of look I’m going for. The best part is playing with different products as you get to know your true hair potential!
I’ll post more as I embark on my healthy hair journey. Also some of my favorite products!!!!!
In the meantime here are some more HEALTHY HAIR tips for my curly hair gals:.
-Always apply a leave-in-conditioner for extra moisture.
-Always section your hair when applying products for better distribution.
– Vitamins are okay but remember to eathealthyfoods for healthy skin and healthy hair.
-For define curls rake the product in your hair with your fingers, raking means detangling with your fingers as you’re applying the product.
-Follow natural hair girls on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, the motivation and advice helps!
-To avoid curl clumping after putting in your styling product.put your towel in your face and shake your head from side to side to release curls. Part your hair how you want it then don’t touch it until it’s dry.
-When your hair is 90 percent dry, use a blowdryer with it’s regular nozzle to elongate curls if you wish to do so.
-Learn about the benefits of oils like jojoba oil, rosemary oil, peppermint oil, coconut oil.
-Learn the best way to straighten your hair. There are different ways that are healthy and no you don’t have to throw away your straightener. I saw women with 4c hair come out with amazing full straight hair looking like Beyonce but not damaging or chemically-altering their hair. Yes it can be done.
Earlier this week at the Gloria Awards and Gala hosted by the Ms. Foundation for Women, comedian Amy Schumer gave a speech covering issues all women go through, including regrettable sexual encounters, crises of confidence, and tips on being one’s own fairy godmother.
Powerful and inspiring.
Here’s her speech in full.
Here I go, and if it doesn’t go well, please just don’t blog about it.
Right before I left for college, I was running my high school. Feel it. I knew where to park, I knew where to get the best chicken-cutlet sandwich, I knew which custodians had pot. People knew me. They liked me. I was an athlete and a good friend. I felt pretty, I felt funny, I felt sane. Then I got to college in Maryland. My school was voted number one … for the hottest freshman girls in Playboy that year. And not because of me. All of a sudden, being witty and charismatic didn’t mean shit. Day after day, I could feel the confidence drain from my body. I was not what these guys wanted. They wanted thinner, blonder, dumber … My sassy one-liners were only working on the cafeteria employees, who I was visiting all too frequently, tacking on not the Freshman 15, but the 30, in record-breaking time, which led my mother to make comments over winter break like, “You look healthy!” I was getting no male attention, and I’m embarrassed to say, it was killing me.
But one guy paid me some attention — Matt. Matt was six feet tall, he looked like a grown-up von Trapp child, and he was five years older than me. What?! An older boy, paying attention to me? I must be okay. Uff. I made him laugh in our bio lab, and I could tell a couple times that we had a vibe. He was a super senior, which is a sexy way of saying “should have graduated, but needed an extra year.” He barely spoke, which was perfect for all the projecting I had planned for him. We grew up in the same town, and getting attention from him felt like success. When I would see him on campus, my heart would race, and I would smile as he passed. I’d look in the mirror and see all the blood rise to my face. I’d spend time analyzing the interaction, and planning my outfit for the next time I saw him. I wanted him to call. He never called. But then finally, he called.
It was 8 a.m., my dorm room phone rang. “Amy, wassup? It’s Matt. Come over.” Holy shit! This is it, I thought. He woke up thinking about me! He realized we’re meant to start a life together! Let’s just stop all this pretending that we weren’t free just to love one another! I wondered, would we raise our kids in the town we both grew up in, or has he taken a liking to Baltimore? I don’t care. I’ll settle wherever he’s most comfortable. Will he want to raise our kids Jewish? Who cares? I shaved my legs in the sink, I splashed some water under my armpits, and my randomly assigned Albanian roommate stared at me from under her sheets as I rushed around our shitty dorm room. I ran right over to his place, ready for our day together. What would we do? It’s still early enough, maybe we’re going fishing? Or maybe his mom’s in town, and he wanted me to join them for breakfast. Knock-knock. Is he going to carry me over the threshold? I bet he’s fixing his hair and telling his mom, “Be cool, this may be the one!” I’ll be very sweet with her, but assert myself, so she doesn’t think she’s completely in charge of all the holiday dinners we’re going to plan together. I’ll call her by her first name, too, so she knows she can’t mess with me. “Rita! I’m going to make the green bean casserole this year, and that’s that!” Knock-knock. Ring ring. Where is he?
Finally, the door opens. It’s Matt, but not really. He’s there, but not really. His face is kind of distorted, and his eyes seem like he can’t focus on me. He’s actually trying to see me from the side, like a shark. “Hey!” he yells, too loud, and gives me a hug, too hard. He’s fucking wasted. I’m not the first person he thought of that morning. I’m the last person he called that night. I wonder, how many girls didn’t answer before he got to fat freshman me? Am I in his phone as Schumer? Probably. But I was here, and I wanted to be held and touched and felt desired, despite everything. I wanted to be with him. I imagined us on campus together, holding hands, proving, “Look! I am lovable! And this cool older guy likes me!” I can’t be the troll doll I’m afraid I’ve become.
He put on some music, and we got in bed. As that sexy maneuver where the guy pushes you on the bed, you know, like, “I’m taking the wheel on this one. Now I’m going to blow your mind,” which is almost never followed up with anything. He smelled like skunk microwaved with cheeseburgers, which I planned on finding and eating in the bathroom, as soon as he was asleep. We tried kissing. His 9 a.m. shadow was scratching my face — I knew it’d look like I had fruit-punch mouth for days after. His alcohol-swollen mouth, I felt like I was being tongued by someone who had just been given Novocain. I felt faceless, and nameless. I was just a warm body, and I was freezing cold. His fingers poked inside me like they had lost their keys in there. And then came the sex, and I use that word very loosely. His penis was so soft, it felt like one of those de-stress things that slips from your hand? So he was pushing aggressively into my thigh, and during this failed penetration, I looked around the room to try and distract myself or God willing, disassociate. What’s on the wall? A Scarface poster, of course. Mandatory. Anything else? That’s it? This Irish-Catholic son of bank teller who played JV soccer and did Mathletes feels the most connection with a Cuban refugee drug lord. The place looked like it was decorated by an overeager set designer who took the note “temporary and without substance” too far.
He started to go down on me. That’s ambitious, I think. Is it still considered getting head if the guy falls asleep every three seconds and moves his tongue like an elderly person eating their last oatmeal? Chelsea? Is it? Yes? It is. I want to scream for myself, “Get out of here, Amy. You are beautiful, you are smart, and worth more than this. This is not where you stay.” I feel like Fantine and Cosette and every fucking sad French woman from Les Miz. And whoever that cat was who sang “Memories,” what was that musical? Suze Orman just goes, “Cats.” The only wetness between my legs is from his drool, because he’s now sleeping and snoring into me. I sigh, I hear my own heartbreak, I fight back my own tears, and then I notice a change in the music. Is this just a bagpipe solo? I shake him awake. “Matt, what is this? The Braveheartsoundtrack? Can you put something else on, please?” He wakes up grumpily, falls to the floor, and crawls. I look at his exposed butt crack, a dark, unkempt abyss that I was falling into. I felt paralyzed. His asshole is a canyon, and this was my 127 Hours. I might chew my arm off.
I could feel I was losing myself to this girl in this bed. He stood up and put a new CD on. “Darling, you send me, I know you send me, honest, you do …” I’m thinking, “What is this?” He crawled back into bed, and tried to mash at this point his third ball into my vagina. On his fourth thrust, he gave up and fell asleep on my breast. His head was heavy and his breath was so sour, I had to turn my head so my eyes didn’t water. But they were watering anyway, because of this song. Who is this? This is so beautiful. I’ve never heard these songs before. They’re gutting me. The score attached to our morning couldn’t have been more off. His sloppy, tentative lovemaking was certainly not in the spirit of William Wallace. And now the most beautiful love songs I’ve ever heard play out as this man-boy laid in my arms, after diminishing me to a last-minute booty call. I listened to the songs and I cried. I was looking down at myself from the ceiling fan. What happened to this girl? How did she get here? I felt the fan on my skin and I went, “Oh, wait! I am this girl! We got to get me out of here!” I became my own fairy godmother. I waited until the last perfect note floated out, and escaped from under him and out the door. I never heard from Matt again, but felt only grateful for being introduced to my new self, a girl who got her value from within her. I’m also grateful to Matt for introducing me to my love Sam Cooke, who I’m still with today.
Now I feel strong and beautiful. I walk proudly down the streets of Manhattan. The people I love, love me. I make the funniest people in the country laugh, and they are my friends. I am a great friend and an even better sister. I have fought my way through harsh criticism and death threats for speaking my mind. I am alive, like the strong women in this room before me. I am a hot-blooded fighter and I am fearless. But I did morning radio last week, and a DJ asked, “Have you gained weight? You seem chunkier to me. You should strike while the iron is hot, Amy.” And it’s all gone. In an instant, it’s all stripped away. I wrote an article forMen’s Health and was so proud, until I saw instead of using my photo, they used one of a 16-year-old model wearing a clown nose, to show that she’s hilarious. But those are my words. What about who I am, and what I have to say? I can be reduced to that lost college freshman so quickly sometimes, I want to quit. Not performing, but being a woman altogether. I want to throw my hands in the air, after reading a mean Twitter comment, and say, “All right! You got it. You figured me out. I’m not pretty. I’m not thin. I do not deserve to use my voice. I’ll start wearing a burqa and start waiting tables at a pancake house. All my self-worth is based on what you can see.” But then I think, Fuck that. I am not laying in that freshman year bed anymore ever again. I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story — I will. I will speak and share and fuck and love and I will never apologize to the frightened millions who resent that they never had it in them to do it. I stand here and I am amazing, for you. Not because of you. I am not who I sleep with. I am not my weight. I am not my mother. I am myself. And I am all of you, and I thank you.
Below are some of the books that I’ve read on my self-love journey. Reading is where I get most of my inspiration and insight. Some are recommendations from friends who are also on the same journey. I picked my top 5.
If you’re planning a reading list this summer include some of these! Click on the picture to buy it on Amazon.com!!!
1. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom Don Miguel Ruiz
Agreement 1: Be impeccable with your word. Agreement 2: Don’t take anything personally. Agreement 3: Don’t make assumptions. Agreement 4: Always do your best.
I read this book while I was in California doing some “soul searching”. Recommended to me by my friend Jamie, I loved it so much I wrote a blogpost on it. Check out my full review.
2. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are Brene Brown
I have so many notes in my book, and so many of these pages highlighted that I don’t even know where to begin. I might have to write a post just for this book! Brené Brown has dropped so much wisdom on me. This book has changed my life. If you only buy one book on this list, buy this one.
3. YOU are a BADASS: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome LifeJen Sincero
We all need a kick in the a** sometimes, and this book inspires you in the most blunt and clear throat way. But Jen does it in such a witty and clever way you can help but admire her for it. In this refreshing how-to guide, Sincero gives us chapters, such as “Fear is for Suckers” and “Your Mind is Your B*tch”, full of hilarious inspiring stories, life-changing insights, easy exercises, and the lots of swear words.
4. The Path to Love– Deepak Chopra
A quick read with a deep message. This book provided me with so much great insight about what love is and what it isn’t… at a time in my life when it was critical for me to know.
5. The Way To Love: The Last Meditations of Anthony De Mello Anthony De Mello
The title of this book should really be “The Way to Be Free.” Anthony “Tony” de Mello was a Jesuit priest who had a good understanding of the human heart. It is a short read and it leaves you wanting more. This book tore my heart open. I highly recommend it.
Man Repeller: Seeking Love, Finding Overalls – Leandra Medine
A witty Leandra shares her story from her catholic high school days through college and eventually marriage. Sharing her ups and downs balancing relationships and her wardrobe while on her journey to becoming one of New York City’s top fashion bloggers. I am a personal fan of her blog Man Repeller,a blog she started because her friend would always tell her the way she dressed repelled men, and that’s why she’s single. Genius! Later we find out that her now husband was attracted to how confidently she wore those overalls and grandma harem pants.
Mrs. Right – Tony Gaskins
I had the honor to meet life coach and author Tony Gaskins when he came to speak at Columbia University. A former college athlete and ladies man, Tony shares with women how his wife got him to settle down. Furthermore he shares with women the men’s “game”. Yes, they do just want to sleep with you. Find out how to get more from them.
Still Breathin’: The Wisdom Teachings of A Perfectly Flawed Man Brenden Dilley
“Life is not about perfection. It’s not always about making the best decisions. Life is about love, relationships, success, empathy, and humility.”
A Father First: How My Life Became More Than BasketballDwyane Wade
Great book for the men to read on what it means to be a real man.
The Mastery of Love–Don Miguel Ruiz I read it in Spanish. My mom bought it for me to help me deal with heartbreak. It helped.
Reinventing The Body, Resurrecting the Soul – Deepak Chopra
Here is another book by Deepak Chopra. All his books are amazing.
Words of A Wanderer –Alex Elle
This book is filled with original poems and quotes by Alex Elle, while she was going through her self-journey phase. Relatable, heartfelt, and revolutionary. I met her at a book signing in Brooklyn, she is just as beautiful as her words.
Life of Pi– Yann Martel
Book of Quotes
The Complete Live and Learn and Pass It On – H. Jackson Brown Jr.
People ages 5 to 95 share what they’ve discovered about life, love and other good stuff.
One of my NYU writing professors shared this tip with me on becoming a better writer: “Always have a book in your bag wherever you go. Read a couple pages on the train, waiting at a doctor’s office, or whenever you find yourself with extra time. Nurturing that creative side of your brain is essential to your writing.”